They are a group of actors from Amsterdam who call themselves the Mexican Hound.

And they are touring the United States and Canada.

It's a veritable feast of nationalities!

Actually, the term "Mexican Hound" is Dutch -- if that makes sense. A rather obscure one, at that.

"Before World War II, when the radios had lamps in them, many times there was an atmospheric disturbance that was hoo hoo ho," explains Mexican Hound playwright-director-set designer Alex van Warmerdam, "and the people of Amsterdam called it the Mexican Hound."

The productions are equally off kilter. However, they are award winning. The most recent one, "The Northern Quarter," was named by the city of Amsterdam both the Best Dutch-Written Play and the Best Play for 1989-90.

"The Northern Quarter" is about a 43-year-old man named Faas who's never been out of his house. His parents wouldn't let him out.

"In a way, he's a prisoner," says van Warmerdam. "His parents paint him a world that is not more than the house, in fact. And for many years, he believes there is nothing more than what they tell him. At a certain point he gets curious and he wants to go out. So they need more ways to keep him in the house. They don't lie but they tell him things to keep him in."

This is intercut with scenes of laborers out working in the "real world." Eventually, Faas escapes the confines of his house and talks to the laborers.

"And the outsiders react in the same way as his parents did," says van Warmerdam. "They tell him what to do and how to act. He discovers when he comes outside that the people are all the same."

Van Warmerdam writes in short bursts. Each scene lasts no more three minutes. "It immediately starts at the point where it's important," he explains, "and when it's said, it's over." He stitches these scenes together with music that is also simple. Bass, drums and guitar. "It has its roots in rock music because it's electric," he says, adding, "sometimes loud and sometimes not."

The Mexican Hound is performing "The Northern Quarter" at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater Thursday and Friday nights at 7:30. Tickets are $21.50. For information, call 202-467-4600.